What keywords should personal injury lawyers target in search?

Gyi Tsakalakis
March 6, 2013

We asked, and you are answering. One question you have is:

What keywords should personal injury lawyers target?

And the TL;DR answer is: Whichever keywords attract the types of visitors you want. But let's dive a bit deeper.

Duh, new clients

For the purposes of this post, let's assume that we're talking about trying to figure out what keywords personal injury lawyers should target as part of their organic search strategy (while there may be some overlap, there are some additional considerations for keyword discovery in paid search).

More and more attorneys are embracing the internet and search as a channel for client development. Unfortunately, for the majority of attorneys with whom we talk, their understanding of how search works goes something like this:

  1. Potential client searches Google for something like: "Chicago personal injury lawyer"
  2. Whoever comes up first gets the click, call or inquiry.
  3. So, lawyers create many pages over-optimized to target variations of these keywords (i.e. chicago personal injury attorney, chicago accident lawyers, personal injury lawyers in chicago, etc).

It is this thinking that leads to a lot of crappy law firm internet marketing.

And while there's no doubt that some people search like this, this is a very limited way to think about search. Most lawyers haven't yet wrapped their heads around the many different ways that people search.

Directories, Research, Names

Most lawyers understand the "yellow pages" directory advertising model. This is why they usually fall into the "city practice area attorney" trap with their search strategy. And so, they become obsessed with ranking for these terms.

And as targeted as you might suspect that visits from these types of searches are, they likely represent a very small percentage of the total relevant search traffic for your firm.

You see, in most cases, the overwhelming majority of relevant search traffic is going to come in the form of long-tail research searches.

This means putting yourself in the shoes of your potential clients. What questions are they likely to have? What language are they likely to use in doing online research?

For personal injury lawyers, this might mean targeting keywords related to:

  • Injuries - When people are injured, it stands to reason that they (and family and friends) will go online to learn more about their injury. Which means that they'll search for information about their injuries. They're likely to research terms that their medical provider has used to explain their injuries. So, personal injury lawyers should consider developing content around the types of injuries that their prospective clients are researching.
  • Economics - When people get hurt, they have to deal with the economic consequences of their injuries. They have questions about lost time at work, medical bills and home modification expenses. So, personal injury lawyers should consider developing and publicizing content that provides answers to these economic questions.
  • Insurance - It's also likely that injury victims will have to deal with insurance companies. They'll have questions about filing insurance claims, what to do after claim denials, etc. So, personal injury lawyers should target keywords related to the types of questions their potential clients might have related to dealing with insurance companies.

Of course, these are only a couple of ideas. The point is that you need to put yourself in the shoes of your audience. What problems are they dealing with? What questions are they likely to have? Can you answer these questions?

Beyond Potential Clients

While there's no question that you want to target keywords that attract potential clients, there are many other people that you might want to attract to your web properties.

These people might include:

  • Journalists that cover topics related to your practice.
  • Other lawyers that publish on subject matter.
  • Bloggers that cover topics related to the people you represent.

And you can probably contemplate a variety of other people that you might want to attract to your site to create, nurture and solidify professional relationships that will enhance your professional reputation, generate more referrals, etc.

So, personal injury lawyers should build content around the types of keywords that these people are likely to use in doing research online.

Great, but How?

Now that we've talked conceptually about the types of keywords that personal injury lawyers should go after, here are some ideas about how to discover these keywords.

  • Brainstorm - The first step in keyword discovery should start with brainstorming. Who are all the different people you want to attract to your site? What are the types of things that they're searching for? Where are they going to find this information (i.e. places beyond Google, specific sites, forums, social networks)? How are they looking for answers and information related to your practice? What language do they use? Here's a hint: it's probably not the same language you use.
  • Search Interest - Once you've brainstormed, it's time to collect some data about your hypotheses. There are a variety of tools you can use to gauge web search interest. Some of my favorites are Google Trends & Ubersuggest.
  • Build Content - Next, you have to build content around these keyword ideas. This is where the rubber meets the road. You should ask yourself how you can create content that is unique, useful, informative and/or entertaining. You need to make the best page on the subject. It doesn't mean creating pages for every iteration of personal injury lawyer that you can think of. That's just embarrassing.
  • Market that Content - Finally, merely creating content usually isn't enough. You need to get that content in front of the people who want to consume it, share it, link to it and further publicize it. This doesn't mean merely getting it indexed or blasting it out through your social media profiles. It means listening to what people want, delivering on that demand for information and engaging these people in discourse on these subjects.

While keyword targeting and discovery are definitely a part of the SEO equation, it's important to keep this aspect in perspective.

Search engines are becoming much more sophisticated.

The Future: Beyond Keywords

Google is smarter than you. It is better funded than you. While you might be able to "trick" search engines into delivering your thin, over-optimized pages some of the time, at least for a little while, in the end, they're likely to catch onto your scheme. Which means, you can either be in a perpetual cycle of trying to find new ways to trick search engines, or you can align your interests with search engines by giving them what they want.

The signals that search engines use to index and sort and relevant pages continue to become more and more complex. And with the addition of machine learning, this evolution is likely to accelerate.

If you're spending a lot of time obsessing over ranking for the handful of keywords that you think are important, you're likely to be left behind.

If you want to obsess over something, obsess about finding ways to make your web properties the best on your subject matter. That's hard enough as it is.

Hope this helps to answer the question. If you have additional questions, please don't hesitate to help us, help you.

Gyi Tsakalakis
Co-Founder of AttorneySync
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Michael Ehline
Michael Ehline
11 years ago

This is a pretty good one Guy. Would you be interested in doing a Hangout with Tony Castelli and I at the http://www.circleoflegaltrust.com on Friday?

Gyi Tsakalakis
11 years ago
Reply to  Michael Ehline

Hi Michael, thanks for stopping by. I'd be happy to do a Hangout. Shot me an email at [email protected] for next steps. Thanks again, Gyi

Anthony Castelli
Anthony Castelli
11 years ago

Well thought out article . But I still want to know what's your favorite long tail key word phrase that converts. It's one thing to drive traffic and its another thing to get clients. I know your article implies that

Also there may be very few searches for these long tail key word phrases so I'd question how google trends would be that relevant for long tail search.

So with LSI I'm focusing on "intimate boo boo lawyer to help me with slipped disk against State Farmer" What say you Ggi

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